Is it possible that the word homework could be relabeled? As educators, we know that the purpose of homework is to make sure students can do the work independently. Unfortunately, many classroom teachers know the problem with this concept is that so many students do not return their homework to the classroom. Also, teachers sometimes say they know students did not do the homework, which eliminates the purpose of students doing the work independently.
Another issue is that parents complain about the amount of time required for homework. Students today are very active and have many after-school activities, which are also important for growth and development. So, parents are asking when the homework is supposed to get done. And some parents will argue if the student is having a difficult time understanding the homework, they may not understand or know the proper way to give guidance. Of course, this problem suggests that the student is not able to work independently, and therefore, the homework should not have been assigned.
I would like to purpose an alternative. I offer this alternative knowing that time for teaching in the classroom is never enough. What if classroom teachers allowed, let’s say, the last 30 minutes of the day for homework? By using this approach, we eliminate the homework never returning to the classroom and the student getting help from others. We also eliminate the frustration of the parents.
If we use this approach, the teacher can observe and determine which students are capable of working independently and which students might need additional explanation. The teacher also has the chance to help motivate the student. This gives everyone a win-win.
If we believe:
- The purpose of our school is to ensure all students learn.
- It is our responsibility to create the conditions that promote high levels of learning for all.
- Completing homework is essential for students to be successful.
Then should we not be willing to make changes that will ensure success for all? It may be that not everyone will finish in 30 minutes; however, this alternative will eliminate some time at home. It will also give the teacher a chance to explain to students who do not understand.
Perhaps the word homework could be changed to independent work. I believe the purpose of the work is much more important than where it is done. If some of you decide to make changes in your homework policy, I would love to hear how it has made a positive difference.
My work as an educator is in elementary school, so I am writing this with that setting in mind. I know the issue of schedules immediately comes to the forefront. The question becomes: “Where could we put homework time in our schedule?” By working through the PLC process, you may end up with five or six solutions, and then you can choose the one that will work best for you.